Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!
Bill asks: I read your article regarding the demise of the Chrysler 300 and I think you may be barking up the wrong tree. I have a 2017 300 and I love it! I think the problem is a Detroit problem of greed. The auto industry has gotten out of the auto business and become a truck industry. They certainly are guzzlers like the days of old but the mark up is greater as is the profit. So, they’ve abandoned manufacturing cars and are shoving trucks down our throats of which Americans appear to have a voracious appetite. I like cars and therefore my next vehicle will be an auto but not with an American nameplate. Sad day for me, never happened before! Thanks! Sorry to see the demise of the American auto but let’s face it, the manufacturers stopped investing in cars years ago!
My reply: Trucks are being made and sold in large numbers vs. cars for two reasons. One, they are popular. People like them and willingly pay for them. They aren’t being forced down anyone’s throat. There are no mandates that require people to buy trucks or manufacturers to manufacture them. No subsidies, either. Unlike electric cars – which are being forced down people’s throats, including those who don’t buy them.
But there is another reason for the prevalence of trucks. It is the absence of large cars. Today’s trucks fill the role which big (full-sized) cars used to serve. And the reason for that is the federal regulation called CAFE – Corporate Average Fuel Economy – which forced most of the big cars off the road by making them too expensive to build, except as relatively low-volume/high-end cars. Note that there are still plenty of large/big-engined luxury cars.
But most people can’t afford them. They can, however, afford trucks.
CAFE requires every car company’s lineup to meet a “fleet average” mileage (currently about 36 MPG) or get socked with “gas guzzler” fines. Initially, there was a different and lower CAFE standard for “light trucks” vs. “passenger cars.” In other words, the car companies weren’t punished as much for building big trucks vs. big cars.
So they built more trucks.
Then someone hit on the idea of enclosing a truck’s bed and putting carpet and seats back there. The “SUV” was born. These became popular, too.
As the years went by, people abandoned cars – which had become much smaller than they used to be, especially in the trunk – and almost all of them FWD with small four and V6 engines – in favor of big RWD (and 4WD) trucks with V8s and room for 5-6 large adults plus huge room in the bed.
It has nothing to with “greed” – unless you define that as building what sells and people willingly paying market price for what they want – and everything to do with arrogance and stupidity, with the market distortions created by the busybodies and control freaks who are what is styled “the government.”
. . .
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I love my truck, though same time, I wouldn’t say no to a Gladiator or Challenger, so long as they came with manuals
My personal preference is a powerful engine (NA or tuner turbo) and manual, except in the case of the Ram, work is work and while it’s auto, it’s still a beast and built for offroading as well.
The times I had to transport people, I jokingly acted like a chauffeur and asked how they were enjoying the ride, all they’re missing in the back of the 5th gen Ram is a screen, sky LEDs and champagne.
As you said, Trucks are filling a niche Uncle created, PLUS the added utility and let’s be honest, they’re rugged and masculine and built to work, take a beating and keep on going, what else can do that?
Just my two cents